Northshore Charter School principal visits Rotary

Published 1:02 am Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A transplant from Missouri, new Northshore Charter School Principal Julie Rodriguez made it clear to the Bogalusa Rotary Club Tuesday that her move to Louisiana was the right one for her, a place where “they were making a difference in helping grow students.”

“I want to help kids learn and grow,” Rodriguez continued, so she and her husband, who is retired, made the move. She interviewed with the Louisiana Department of Education and ended up traveling throughout the entire state training educators in the common core state standards for all curricular areas that are being adopted throughout Louisiana as well as 47 other states.

“I worked in literacy,” she said, and when she came across an ad looking for a principal for Northshore Charter she told her husband, “I want to apply for this. I think this is a great place to take everything I’ve learned, everything I know and really make sure students succeed.”

Rodriguez began her career in education as an elementary teacher in Moscow Mills, Mo.

“During that time,” she said proudly, “we had the highest achievement school in math in the state of Missouri… because we used our data, we really drove it.”

She then moved on to more urban environments and eventually to a university setting.

“This (coming to the charter school) was a chance to start at the ground and make it come alive,” she said, passion in her voice.

She noted this charter school is a Type 2 charter, which means it has its own board of directors, which she works with and, she said, “They are here to hold my feet to the fire to make sure I do everything I need to do to make students succeed.”

The school is a public school, but it’s a school of choice, she said.

She reiterated that the school will house K-2 and ninth grades the first year.

“We’ll be a project-based school where the students really learn by doing. Also, one of the strongest things that we know helps kids achieve is to teach them to be leaders,” she said.

“Kids will choose projects that will help the community: they will develop them, they will plan them.”

“We want to make sure that every kid is successful,” she said. “We have to make sure that we are meeting the needs of all students.”

To that goal, the focus will be on making sure that every student succeeds.

“That is possible,” said Rodriguez.

During a brief question and answer period, Rodriguez reminded those in attendance that the school is first and foremost a public school, and as such must provide the same things that the Bogalusa City Schools provide, such as lunches, including free and reduced price lunches, school buses, etc.

Enrollment, she said, is projected to be 240 students the first year, with about 20 students to a classroom. When asked how many were currently enrolled, she said, “I can’t tell you. I know we have a crate full. But it’s growing. This week we will be sending out a flyer in the mail with more information,” she concluded.

She and board member Rev. R.L. Palmer noted that they are still working on many things, such as finalizing a building, bus routes, etc.

The first day of the 2012-13 school year will be in August.